Dried shrimp are sun-dried shrimp that have shrunk to about the size of a thumb nail. Particularly popular in Asian cuisine, especially Thai, these small crustaceans add a rich, briny flavour to many dishes. In the United States, these items are popular in southern Louisiana where seafood gumbo is a popular nutritional staple. If cooked or prepared incorrectly, these shrimp can turn out rubbery and often inedible. Follow these simple steps to make sure your dried shrimp dishes turn out properly.
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Visit an Asian market to find these shrimp, which usually come packaged in snack-size bags or in bags by the pound. In Louisiana, you should find these in many grocery and convenience stores.
Remove the shrimp from the packaging and wash them thoroughly. Often these shrimp are not cleaned prior to being dried and packaged. Dump them in a colander and use your hand to toss them in warm water to remove dirt, grit and other inedible compounds.
Fill a large bowl with water and allow the shrimp to soak for at least 10 minutes. Some recipes even suggest letting them soak for a few hours or overnight. This process rehydrates the shrimp and helps keep them from getting that rubbery texture discussed earlier.
Use the shrimp as directed by your recipe. In gumbos, these shrimp are usually added as the pot begins to simmer. The shrimp nearly dissolve in the hot liquid and leave behind a popular briny flavour. In most Asian dishes, these shrimp are Wok fried or ground up into tiny pieces before added to a traditional dish such as Pad Thai.
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